A woman in her 60s from southwestern Manitoba who had COVID-19 has died — the first death connected with the illness in Manitoba outside Winnipeg, public health officials say.
The woman was hospitalized in the Prairie Mountain Health Region, but not in intensive care when she died, chief provincial public health officer Dr. Brent Roussin said Wednesday. She had underlying health issues.
“I want to extend my condolences to her family and loved ones,” he said.
Roussin also announced two new cases of COVID-19 in Manitoba on Wednesday. However, two probable cases have been ruled negative, leaving the total number unchanged from Tuesday at 246, he said.
Nine people are in hospital, with four in intensive care.
In Manitoba, 108 people have now recovered from the virus, Roussin said, leaving the number of active cases — patients who still have the coronavirus — at 132.
“We are not helpless against this virus. Our actions are showing some effects and that now is the time to continue with those actions,” Roussin said. He added that those efforts may be ramped up later this week, but stopped short of discussing any details.
The number of active cases, deaths and recoveries announced by the province totals 245 — one less than the total the province reported on Wednesday.
“Those numbers are always being reconciled … [and] are coming and changing frequently,” Roussin said.
On the front lines, 21 health-care workers have tested positive for COVID-19, including seven nurses, four medical staff and 10 allied health-care workers, Shared Health chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa said.
Of these cases, 19 are from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and two are from the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority; nine people have returned to work after recovering.
No health-care workers have tested positive for the coronavirus since April 9, Siragusa said. She believes that’s due to extensive contact tracing and screening measures at the health-care facilities.
“It’s a stressful time for everyone and hopefully we’re on the other side,” she said.
In an effort to make sure there are enough health-care workers during the pandemic, Siragusa says the College of Registered Nurses of Manitoba has issued nine temporary registrations to former or retired nurses, and 24 registrations are in progress.
Roussin said he’s concerned after hearing anecdotally that some people who need medical care aren’t going to clinics or the hospital, because of concerns they may overwhelm the system.
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“Some people are hesitant about attending because of the fears of COVID-19. Others, in fact, reported feeling guilty about utilizing health-care services during this time.… Neither one of those should be a barrier to anyone attending health care,” he said.
“Our health-care facilities are safe and they are there to help in these circumstances.”
The Cadham Provincial Lab performed 305 COVID-19 tests Tuesday. A total of 17,902 tests have been performed since early February.
When asked about antibody testing — which is used to find out who may have already been infected with COVID-19, in order to learn more about how the virus spreads in the community — Roussin says it’s something the province is looking into.
A second assessment clinic opened at Sergeant Tommy Prince Place recreation centre Wednesday, Siragusa said.
The clinic will take over COVID-19 testing that’s been done at Mount Carmel Clinic, she said.
The assessment clinics also deliver primary care on an appointment basis to patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have respiratory symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath.
The province is working to increase the number of dedicated spaces for self-isolation of health-care staff and patients who are COVID-19-positive, as well as those they’ve had close contact with, Siragusa said.
“It really has been an impressive effort of a bunch of people working together to make sure that this resource is available and really a key part of reducing the spread of this virus in the province.”
Currently, 11 people are staying in a dedicated space for people experiencing homelessness. Siragusa says 39 more beds for homeless Winnipeggers will be made available by the end of the week.
About 30 hotels have indicated to the province they’re willing to host isolation centres, she said.
Although the numbers of new cases in the province continue to be low, Roussin reiterated his message to practise physical distancing and stay home as much as possible.
People shouldn’t be congregating in groups, even outside and two metres apart, he said.
“Black-and-white answer: stay home.… Out on your front steps and on your driveway, enjoying the outdoors in your backyard is OK, but you shouldn’t invite your neighbours over into your backyard,” Roussin said.
“We’re at the critical stage, so let’s keep our efforts in place right now, and we might be able to see a time relatively soon when we can start loosening some of these restrictions.”
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